• PointCraft and Plate-Solving

PointCraft and Plate-Solving

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Plate-solving is a image analysis that detects the stars and then tries to identify them using catalogs of know stars. If the analysis is successful it is possible to calculate the Right Accession (RA) and Declination (Dec) of the image center which tells where exactly is pointing the telescope, image orientation, resolution and etc. Plate-solving is the engine of many scientific studies for example comet, asteroid hunting and orbit analysis.
Nowadays we are lucky to have access to many advanced techniques and devices that in the past were available only for the biggest professional observatories. Plate-solving is one these techniques that makes imaging much productive, accurate and pleasant. There are two types of solving - Near and Blind. The first one needs to know approximately where "you are" and solving will tell you exactly where "you are", it is very fast because you already know context . For the second one you don't need know where "you are" and solving will find the position without knowing the starting position, it is slower because there is need to match star patterns from all over the sky.
PointCraft can be considered as set of APT features powered by plate-solving technology. The actual solving is made by external programs then their results are used by APT.
The key features of PointCraft are:
This is PointCraft aid looks like:
Supported are three solving applications. Each has their advantages, so it is recommended to install the three of them in order to have the full set of options on the field. ASTAP is the most modern solution and unless you find problem you can use only this application. ASPS is based on Astrometry.net which is classics so it is good to have it in case there is problem to blind solve a particular image. Giovanni Benintende has made the installation and the configuration very easy. PS2 and PS3 are great applications too, however it could have problems with solving on computers with non US/UK numeric format, also can have difficult times when short focal length lens is used.
ASTAP, PS2, PS3 and ASPS are not included in the APT installation, so you have to download them separately. Make sure to make this step when you have access to good/cheap internet connection.
ASTAP Installation:
PS2 Installation:
PS3 Installation:
ASPS Installation:
You need at least one of ASTAP, PS2, PS3 or ASPS. After their installation go to PointCaft Settings to select the application folders.
Some notes about the installations:
The next topics are explaining the PointCraft features in details.